Around five years ago, just around when Jay-Z was settling into New York’s throne and Roc-A-Fella was barely getting off the ground, there was a whole lot of hype surrounding the as-of-then album-less Philly lyricist, Beanie Sigel. Around this time, Beans had just set fire on The Roots Things Fall Apart disc, and was also leading off Jay-Z’s “Do It Again” club single. Hype had almost – but not quite – reached 50 Cent levels of pre-album buzz, with the words “Beanie Sigel is the future” being the quote overheard in many industry circles.
When Beanie finally dropped The Truth, nobody could really argue with the fact that he had a solid album on his hands, but all of the talk regarding that Beanie Sigel was a future hall of fame emcee suddenly seemed to cease. Following The Truth was The Reason, however Beanie’s sophomore effort was less-appealing than the first, leaving listeners even more puzzled as to what all the fuss behind B. Sigel was really about. After catching an untimely bid, Beanie delivers his third album, The B. Coming, from behind bars.
Perhaps his darkest release yet, there’s nothing too cheery about The B. Coming, as the album actually represents more of a departure than it does an arrival, with his unfortunate jail time. “Feel It In The Air”, the album’s lead single, sets the overall tone for the album – beats built around classic soul samples, depressing lyrical content, and an overall lo-fi sound that doesn’t usually accompany major label hip-hop releases. But while “Feel It In The Air” won’t pack any club floors, Beanie’s collection of mellow tracks provides a little more food for thought than usual. Case in point is “Purple Rain”, a beautifully descriptive ode to the Texas drink of choice, sizzurup (cough medicine + alcohol), that screws up a Keith Sweat sample for ultimate relaxation. “Bread and Butter” also comes to mind, a Just Blaze banger of the less-aggressive variety, which sports a Brand Nubian appearance, easily making it one of the nicest tracks on the album. The same can be said for “Don’t Stop”, another atypically mellow track from the usual party poppin’ Neptunes, with a hook from Snoop sure to inspire Beans to keep his head up while locked down.
But while Beanie’s bleak (no pun intended) outlook on life propels these cuts, it also helps spin the album into monotony for much of the remainder of it. Both “Oh Daddy” (prod. Boola) and “I Can’t Go On This Way” (prod. Aqua) utilize the overdone “chipmunk soul” style of production, while each “Change” (feat. Rell & Melissa Jay), “Look At Me Now” (feat. Rell), and “Lord Have Mercy” (feat. Asia and Ash) instead trade it for syrupy live R&B vocals – unfortunately neither do much to propel this album in any fashion. Furthermore, while this album may have had to be handed in unfinished thanks to his recent jail sentence, the addition of guests on virtually every song also hinders the release from time to time. It helps it too however, as Twista saves “Gotta Have It” after Peedi Peedi’s career-destroying appearance, while Redman does the same for “One Shot Deal”, on the closest things you’ll find to a club banger on this record. But otherwise, Freeway embarrasses himself trying to belt out lyrics from Roy Ayers’ classic “Sunshine” on “I Can’t On This Way”, while the rest of State Property further dooms any chance of seeing that sophomore release on snoozers such as “Tales Of A Hustler Part 2″ and “Flatline”. Hey, at least we get a few Jay-Z verses on last year’s promo 12-inch bonus track, “It’s On”.
While Beanie has always been one to pen lyrics about his pain, he’s done it better in the past (on his first album, if not Jay-Z’s “Dynasty” release). Not to mention, we’ve also seen him think outside the box as far as concepts and delivery go (“Mac Man”, “Roc The Mic”), but The B. Coming does little to let the lyrical tiger buried deep within Beanie show it’s claws. Instead, we get lots of verses lazily built upon the foundations of old Ice Cube, Biggie, and Geto Boys verses, which does little to innovate or stimulate. While this album has more outstanding moments than the lackluster sophomore release, The Reason, it may actually take some time tucked away behind bars for Beanie to truly hone his craft to levels of perfection.
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